Tania Ellersick, MFS

2011 TRI Fellow in Malaysia

Dipterocarpaceae flowering abundance and seedling recruitment following a mass flowering event in the Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo


Dipterocarpforests of Southeast Asia are renowned for their remarkable tree diversity and their environmental and economic significance on a global scale. However, deforestation and land conversion has degraded Borneo’s lowland dipterocarp forests at an alarming rate and extent. This dramatic reduction is expected to have deleterious and widespread effects, threatening both tree reproduction and wildlife populations. Reforestation is necessary to replace degraded grasslands, provide habitat for fauna, mitigate climate change and increase site productivity for new social values. Restoration can increase the density of flowering conspecifics that can promote successful cross-pollination and short-term seed and seedling survival.Studies regarding flowering and fruiting events and the amount of seed dispersal around parent trees are necessary for successful restoration efforts.Flowering abundance and seedling density varies between species of the Dipterocarpaceae family that dominate the aseasonal forests of Southeast Asia. In 2010, the largest mass flowering/mast fruiting event in twelve years occurred on the island of Borneo, and phenology information for 5500 trees in a 160-hectare study plot has been collected in the Sepilok Forest Reserve in Sabah Malaysia. My study builds upon the work of Kettle et al. (2010 and 2011), and Maycock et al. (2005). I determine the relationship between dipterocarp flowering abundance and seedling recruitment, and examine individual tree size with evidence of flowering for four species of the Shorea genus, S. johorensis, S. macroptera, S. multiflora, and S. parvifolia. I also examine the relationship between flowering conspecific density and flowering abundance as well as hetero-specific density on flowering abundance and seedling recruitment.